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Simmonds, Giroux score 2 goals each as Flyers romp over Predators, 6-3

Tribune News Service • Feb 4, 2016 at 10:52 PM

NASHVILLE — The Flyers, one of the league’s lowest-scoring teams all season, have suddenly become goal-happy.

Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux each scored a pair of goals and collected three points as the Flyers ripped the Predators on Thursday night, 6-3, at Bridgestone Arena.

The Flyers have scored at least four goals in their last three games — all wins.

Jake Voracek and Scott Laughton added two assists apiece as the Flyers evened their road record at 11-11-3.

The Flyers, who swept the two-game season series from Peter Laviolette’s Predators, inched closer in the wild-card race.

There was a negative: Sean Couturier was injured in the second period and did not return. General manager Ron Hextall said he would have an update Friday.

Shea Weber’s power-play blast cut Nashville’s deficit to 4-3 with 9 minutes, 57 seconds left. He scored after Radko Gudas’ third penalty of the night.

But Simmonds (power play) and Giroux scored within a 1:10 span, giving the Flyers a 6-3 cushion with 6:49 remaining. Simmonds has two goals in three of the last four games.

During their three-game winning streak, the Flyers have scored 14 goals and have received strong work from their much-maligned penalty kill, which is 11 for 13 in that span, including 6 for 7 on Thursday.

Twenty-five seconds after Giroux gave the Flyers a three-goal lead, Calle Jarnkrok scored on a rebound to get the Predators within 4-2 with 3:20 to go in the second.

Giroux had scored on a one-timer from the slot after taking a feed from Voracek, who has 35 points in his last 33 games.

Simmonds, sent away on a breakaway by Laughton, scored on his own rebound to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead with 11:50 left in the second period.

“They had a defenseman break his stick, so I took off. I knew he’d be going off to the bench for a change,” said Simmonds, who has 18 goals, including nine in his last 12 games. “Lauts made a great saucer pass for the breakaway.”

Simmonds gave the Flyers three goals on just nine shots. Giroux made it four goals on 12 shots.

After Roman Josi made a deft pass, Ryan Johansen fired a slot shot over Steve Mason’s left shoulder to cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1 with 15:37 left in the second. The goal was scored shortly after Nashville killed a 3:17 Flyers power play to start the period.

Excellent penalty killing and an opportunistic offense helped the Flyers build a 2-0 lead in the opening period.

The Flyers killed a five-minute clipping major to Gudas late in Tuesday’s win against Montreal, and successfully blanked the Predators after four minutes of penalties to Gudas (a double minor for high sticking) early in Thursday’s game.

Mason made four saves during the Predators’ four-minute power play, including a key stop on Ryan Johansen in close.

The Flyers also took advantage of their few first-period scoring chances, beating all-star goalie Pekka Rinne on two of their five shots.

With just under six minutes left in the first, two Predators defenders collided with Michael Raffl at the Flyers’ offensive blue line, and Matt Read put on a burst of speed, skated into the zone alone, and fired a shot through Rinne’s legs.

“I watched a lot of highlights and you try to find a goalie’s weakness said Read, who has four goals in his last 10 games, “and I’ve seen a lot of five-hole goals on him. I figured I’d try it out and I got lucky and got a piece of the puck and slid it in.”

A little less than two minutes later, Brayden Schenn, standing just to the left of the net, converted a slick pass from Couturier (16 points in his last 16 games) to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead with 4:11 left in the first.

Sam Gagner, crushed by Barret Jackman at the blue line, still managed to get the puck to Couturier to start the goal-scoring sequence.

“Gaggy took a big hit to make a play,” Schenn said after his 14th goal. “Popped it to Coots and made a great play.”

For Schenn, it was his fourth goal in the last five games; he has goals in three straight.

—Sam Carchidi

The Philadelphia Inquirer—

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